Beijing EAPS Consulting Inc. (BEC) is a consulting company specializing in the provision of psychological support to personnel of BECs customer companies. BEC began with six staff in 2001 and has grown to 20 staff in 6 short years. The company started with two co-founders managing the company from a single office, shared between them. At the start of the venture, a definite company structure with identified departments did not exist. At the time, employees were assigned projects based on skills and company schedules.
In 2006, Beijing EAPS Consulting started setting up new departments and contracting new employees. The company structure entailed a consulting department, marketing department, research & development department (R&D), training department, two project departments A and B (PDA and PDB), and an administration department.
The first exhibit, Exhibit 1, shows BEC’s project configuration after 2006. It is notable that there are 2 organizations in charge of projects and they are classified as distinct departments operated under different management. This is the functional type of organization structure
The second exhibit, Exhibit 2, shows the responsibilities of the two Project Departments. It clearly depicts both of them having similar overall duties with respect to their projects. Complications may ]come up due to the fact that two project managers operate under fall under separate functional managers, i.e. PDA falls under the Vice President, while the PDB falls under the CEO (Exhibit 1). However, the PDA and the PDB project managers have to liaise with the marketing department to deliver proposals and draw marketing articles. PDA receives enhanced support from the marketing unit as they both operate under the Vice President’s docket. PDA receives precedence; hence PDB is sorted out second. Since PDB, the training department and the consulting department all fall under the CEO, PDB would receive better support with can expect better cooperation with training department and consulting department on the development of project deliverables as all three fall under the CEO.
The functional managers may hold the opinion that working on the projects as the restructuring of resources to deal on an assignment that does not fall under the department’s docket. This is evident in the words of the R&D department manager to the Administration dept. head, “Here we go again. A new project robbing people from me again”. Even the project managers were saying, “I wonder who will be scraped from the bottom of the barrel to work on my team this time around. Just once I wish that the Research and Development manager could feel my pain.”
Question 2: Point out the strengths and weaknesses that have been made clear about the project plan to date.
BEC uses a unique approach to undertaking projects in the new organization. The strategy is to modestly manage the projects within the prevailing functional order of the organization. When management chooses to implement a given project, different and specific sections of the project are passed on to the corresponding and relevant functional units, with each and every division accountable for finishing its section of the project. The functional areas are coordinated by the project manager and reports to their particular functional manager.(see Exhibit 1).
Functional organizational structure has its fair number of advantages and disadvantages.
The main advantages are:
1. Flexibility. Staffs are used to their maximum potential. Suitable professionals within separate functional units would be assigned to a different work course within a given project before resuming normal day-to-day work within their units. This allows for ease of switching personnel between different projects.
2. No Change. Projects are completed within the basic functional structure of the parent organization. The top management team managed the different departments, according to their own areas of expertise. Chief consultant led the R&D department because had knowledge in EAPs research. CEO Mr. Zheng was very familiar with the consulting and training departments. The vice-president was experienced in marketing. There is no radical alteration in the design and operation of the parent organization.
3. Easy Post-Project Transition. The career lanes for a functional division are maintained for employees within the division. The field, in which the professionals make notable contributions to certain projects, is the place to practice professional advancement and growth (Gray and Larson, 2008).
4. In-Depth Expertise. If the scope of the project is narrow and the proper functional unit is assigned primary responsibility, then in-depth expertise can be brought to bear on the most crucial aspects of the project.
The disadvantages to operating projects in the prevailing functional organization are distinct when a project has a wide scope of the project, where the managerial and technological lead cannot be taken by one functional department:
Poor Integration. Functional units tend to be poorly integrated as professionals from the different functional units tend to concentrate with their section of the project instead of concern for the well-being of the whole project.
Lack of Ownership. The project mostly receives weak or little motivation. Most employees would perceive the project as a distraction from the career path; this is compounded by the fat that working on a segment of a project rather than the whole project would result in not identifying with the project as a whole. This drains commitment form activities pertaining to projects (Gray and Larson, 2008).
Lack of Focus. Every functional division is assigned a unique work routine that is core for the unit; there is the tendency to at times meet primary duties at the expense of project responsibilities. For a project with different units having different priorities, the effect is compounded. An example would be when; the R&D department considers a project as secondary status with the marketing department placing it at primary status.
Slow. Functional arrangement tends to drag projects over time. The response time-project information and decisions is the cause for this. This information has to be channeled through the existing management networks.
Question 3: Classify the specific team behaviors that must be employed to balance the expansion and management problems facing the Beijing EAPS Consulting company.
Employee complaints worried one of the founders of the company, Mr. Zhing. The complaints revolved around task deadlines that they received from the project managers and their department managers. This necessitated that the employees take it upon themselves to prioritize the given tasks to the best of their skills. The structure the management used did not clearly outline who the direct supervisors were. This is because both are on the same level in the organization hierarchy. The projects’ managers feeling of lack of authority on the departmental employees bred confusion on all levels. The management’s disorganized state that is evident to the employees; creates the organization’s paradigm for management. The employees believe no one is in charge since they get to figure out everything for themselves.
BEC need to reconsider their management structure and change it to a matrix structure. The matrix management structure has a horizontal project management structure that is overlaid and interlaced into the normal functional hierarchy (see Exhibit 3). Another option would be the classic structure. This structure is balanced matrix structure where the project manager is accountable for deciding or prioritizing the project deliverables, with the functional managers in charge of how to accomplish them. The project manager sets the standards and scheduled and the functional managers assign personnel and implement their section of the project based the set standards and schedules.
A matrix structure’s efficiency is its most significant advantage. This structure allows for resources to be pooled within functional divisions as well as across several projects. On as-need basis, persons can distribute their efforts across several projects. This is possible with the project organization overlaid onto and interlaced into the functional divisions. The concerned professionals preserve links with their respective functional group, which allows them a homeport to come back to upon finalization of the project. The matrix arrangement allow for flexible use of expertise and resources within the organization. Most importantly, there is a clear definition of duties for the functional managers and the project managers, both of whom are responsible for the execution of the projects.
Question 4: Create safeguards that can be put in place to ensure that the project is completed on time.
The BEC needs and requires the safeguard that assures and ensures timely completion of projects in a manner that it flows in the four step project life cycle. Every step of the project life cycle defines precise action articles for project completion. These four project stages are; defining, planning, executing, and delivering.
The definition stage is self-explanatory as the project is defined at this level. Here establishment of project objectives takes place, followed by formation of teams and assignment of major duties.
The planning stage develops plans that determine the requirements of the project, its time schedule, its beneficiaries, its quality parameters and levels, and the extent of its budget.
The execution stage sees the actual execution of the project’s work and the production of the physical product. Control measures of cost, time and specification are used.
The delivery stage sees the finished product forwarded and presented to the client, with project resources being re-deployed. Redeployment will mostly entail liberating project materials or equipment to other active projects giving new assignments to the concern team members. Exhibit 4 illustrates the four stages of a project and the relative time required for each stage.
A project that is properly planned that takes into consideration risk, will most always be completed on time. A risk avoidance and medication may be employed to keep the project on track.
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Lewis, J. (2003). Project Leadership. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Panneerselvam, R., & Senthilkumar, P. (2010). Project Management. New Delhi: PHI Learning.